The political structure of the blogosphere isn’t kind. Largely, users who are serious about creating a powerful blog factor for traffic their blog receives over a certain period. High traffic dictates that you are indeed a cool kid on the block. There are literally millions of us who wait for a handout from one the big people: instapundit, boing boing, dailykos, little green footballs, and so on. A link from one of these bloggers can generate wildly high traffic patterns to a blog. These granddaddies of blogging have been around awhile – long before blogging became hip during last year’s presidential race (forgive me for not considering those with vanity blogs or who simply run photo-essay or recipes on their blogs who could care less about traffic).
These people are the big guns because they’ve been around for a while. Several years ago, if you found someone who knew what a blog was and mentioned the word to them, they would likely think of one of these sites. Being the first to explore a medium has its advantages, to say the least.
So now comes podcasting. At last count, ipodder was tracking slightly over 5000 registered podcasts. But, again we have only a select few – usually pioneers who receive god-like status: Adam Curry (The Godfather of Podcasting), Dawn and Drew, Illinoise, Coverville, etc. Their popularity is measured by votes on the mainstream podcast feeders like ipodder and podcast alley. Therefore, while we have thousands of podcasts, we now have a top 10 list of podcasts, who dominate the feeders. As a result, podcasters are begging for votes on their podcasts so hopefully they can appear in the top 50 or top 100 podcast lists. This becomes a problem when you consider that the top rakings may not be based on quality of podcasts, but how persuasive someone is to getting their friends or listeners to vote for them. So now, we’re creeping up on the same patterns that exist with blogging: a few select podcasters who throw handouts to the masses who are begging for links or mentions.
A cure for this would be a more streamlined way of measuring quality of content on a podcast. Subjective, I know, but it might work. Voting for top podcasts is democratic and good, but it’s a slippery slope considering all the ways voting can be manipulated considering the rusty beta technology found in ipodder and podcast alley, etc. How about measuring traffic patterns to popular podcasts? Word of mouth travels faster and more efficiently than mere mentions and links within podcasts and blogs. Either way, the system as it is now is problematic. I would hate to see a select few dominate the podcastophere based simply on timing and manipulation of votes. The early birds will get the podcast worm, either way, but it would help to have a better way to disseminate and measure quality of content, rather than simply relying on faulty means.